Rep. Steven Andersson, a leader of the breakaway Republicans who helped end Illinois’ long budget impasse, said Tuesday he has not decided whether he would vote to override another veto from Gov. Bruce Rauner, this time on school funding legislation.
And his only prediction is that if it comes to an override — and I expect it will — it’s going to be a much different consideration for legislators than on the budget vote, including for him.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of people voting their districts,” the second-term Geneva Republican said.
Don’t take that as an indication there won’t be Republican votes for an override so much as that they might not be the same legislators who bucked Rauner to end the budget standoff.
It mostly depends on how each individual legislator’s local school districts would make out under the new Democrat-authored bill to reform the state’s school funding formula.
Conservative downstate legislators whose schools would receive a significant cash infusion under the new formula may be more likely to team with Democrats than moderate suburban Republicans, who wouldn’t fare as well.
The governor has threatened to use his amendatory veto to rewrite that legislation because he finds it overly generous to Chicago Public Schools.
In particular, Rauner objects to Democrats using the school funding bill to send $220 million to CPS for teacher pensions, calling it a Chicago “bailout.”
Historically, CPS has been required to make its own pension payments, unlike suburban and downstate school districts whose teacher pensions have been the responsibility of the state.
Rauner has said he will use his veto power to strip out the pension funding for Chicago schools and redistribute the money to other school districts.
At this point, Rauner doesn’t have a bill to veto. Despite clearing both chambers of the General Assembly, the legislation has been intentionally held back in the Senate, using a procedural tactic while waiting for the fallout to settle from the budget and tax hike votes.
When it does settle, however, all expectations are that we are headed eventually for another override showdown in the House, where attention will again turn to the Republicans who decided it was time for a compromise. If the 67 House Democrats stick together, they would only need four Republicans to override Rauner.
Fifteen House Republicans initially sided with Democrats to raise the income tax. That was reduced to 10 when the time came to override that Rauner veto.
Andersson played a statesmanlike role in helping to piece that group together, emerging as a voice of reason, which is why I wanted to gauge his thinking this time.
Andersson voted against the Democrats’ school funding reform bill, having favored an earlier version that did not include the Chicago pension funding.
But Andersson said he wants to wait and see what the pension bill looks like after Rauner’s amendatory veto before taking a position.
He noted that his Geneva schools came out roughly the same under the Democrats’ bill as under a previous Republican version, but that the school district he represents in Elgin would receive $7 million less.
Andersson said he shares Rauner’s concerns about “rewarding some bad behavior” by CPS in failing to make past payments needed to keep the teacher pension fund healthy.
But he said he would not characterize a state payment for CPS pensions as a “bailout” and added: “I don’t want to punish kids for other people’s mistakes.” He also voiced continued concerns about the state going into junk bond status if the legislature fails to act.
Andersson said he hopes the reason Democrats have delayed getting the bill to Rauner is that there are some behind-the-scenes negotiations taking place to reach a compromise. But as of yet, he’s not part of them.
If there is some sort of compromise, don’t expect it to include Rauner.